The Alexandria boys' cross country team got off to a strong start with a first-place team finish, while the girls took second at the Brainerd "Run For Your Melon" Invite last Friday.

Alexandria got four top-10 individual finishes from the guys to carry the team to a team total of 35 points. Aaron Runge led the way with a second-place finish in a time of 17:07.1. Sartell's Blake Anderson was the only one to beat him with his time of 16:57.

Colton Sailor, Austin Thom and Trent Piepenburg provided the necessary depth to help Alexandria take the team title. Sailor finished sixth in 17:15.4. Thom was seventh in 17:27.1 and Piepenburg rounded out the top four Cardinal runners with a time of 17:29.1, and Brandon Jerde was 11th overall in a time of 17:34.4.

"This boys team has a great deal of depth," head coach Mark Nelsen said. "Only 27 seconds separate our top five runners and there is 1:26 separation from our first to seventh. This is one of our deepest teams in recent years. The depth is also a result of summer miles. Our top 14 boy runners averaged over 300 miles this summer."

The Hasz sisters also continue to set the pace for the Alexandria girls on the 4K course. Megan edged Bethany by the slightest of margins, finishing in 14:32.2 to Bethany's 14:32.3. Julia Sieling was 14th in 17:02.6 and Emily Thul was 15th in 17:05.7. Ellie Hurlen was close behind that in 17:10.7.

"Ellie Hurlen was our only girl who ran a lifetime best over the 4K distance," Nelsen said. "We did have other girls that are very close to their last year's best time."


BOYS' TEAM SCORES; 1. Alexandria, 35; Little Falls, 49; Crosby-Ironton, 61; Brainerd, 108; Sartell, 114

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS; Runge, second place, 17:07.1; Sailor, sixth place, 17:15.4; Thom, seventh place, 17:27.1; Piepenburg, ninth place, 17:29.1; Brandon Jerde, 11th place, 17:34.4; Eric Branch, 14th place, 18:14.2; James Pfeffer, 15th place, 18:18.5


GIRLS' TEAM SCORES; 1. Sartell, 35; Alexandria, 50; Brainerd, 61; Little Falls, 109; Crosby-Ironton, 116

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS; M. Hasz, first place, 14:32.2; B. Hasz, second place, 14:32.3; Sieling, 14th place, 17:02.6; Thul, 15th place, 17:05.7; Hurlen, 18th place, 17:10.7; Karly Betterman, 21st place, 17:32.1; Hannah Wendel, 26th place, 18:03.5